We were in the middle of a 3,000 mile road trip, had just been pulled over by the CHP because the speed limits into Greenville decrease so rapidly, and were about ready for a stretch of the legs and a sit-down meal. The CHP gave us a warning instead of a ticket, and also the best advice of trip, solicited or otherwise. When asked if there was a worthy restaurant in the area, he recommended Anna's Cafe... not as 'a' place to eat, but as 'THE' place to eat. What were we going to do, disrespect him?
It was a Sunday evening, the crowd was thin, but the atmosphere, decor, service, staff, and food were dead-on perfect. I had the chicken-fried steak, and my friend, unfamiliar with American food, had the open-faced turkey sandwich. Both our meals were fantastic- the side salad that opened the meal was fresh, with a nice mixture of greens, vegetables, croutons, and a truly delicious dressing on the side. The main course was also dead-on, with the best chicken fried steak I'd been served in probably 20 years. The mashed potatoes were real, fresh, creamy, and perfectly seasoned, and the gravy was not too rich, very tasty, and light. Even the side veg, a medley of fresh green beans, was perfectly cooked to order- they hadn't been sitting in some steamer all day, like you'd expect. The chef really was working his but off to make certain the food he plated was as good as possible, and I commended him for his attention to detail.
As I mentioned, even the service was exemplary. Pleasant, light in spirit, and not overbearing or formulaic in approach, our waitress knew exactly what we needed and was never intrusive or bothersome, nor neglectful- just the perfect waitress.
We were less than halfway through our road trip when we dined at Anna's, and I knew we would probably not have a better dining experience during the entire trip. We went out of our way to thank the waitress and cook- no, chef- for such a fantastic meal, experience, and relaxing respite from road food. And thanked them again for the bucket of water they gave me for my dog.
I was right- nothing else in the entire trip came remotely close to the perfect meal we had at Anna's. It's not a swanky, overpriced bistro in Santa Monica, it's not some lame chain, it's not some out of the way greasy spoon. It is real, honest, delicious , and inexpensive food, perfect for the family wanting a night out or, as in our case, the weary traveler in need of a relaxing meal and a vacation form road food hell.
I cannot recommend Anna's Cafe any higher. I only wish they were here, or I lived there, because it is, in all honesty, the best overall restaurant experience I've had in probably 15 years.